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Saskatoon assault trial hears punches, kicks, consistent with police training


SASKATOON – A former Saskatoon police officer accused of assaulting the driver of a stolen vehicle involved in a lengthy high-speed chase has testified he was following his training during the takedown.

Jarett Gelowitz, who is 32, took the stand Wednesday at his judge-alone trial.

He told court that as the senior officer at the scene, he took it upon himself to initiate hands-on contact with the suspect, Keller Bear, who was 18 at the time of the December 2016 pursuit.

Gelowitz says he believed Bear was resisting arrest, adding that a series of punches, knee strikes and kicks seen in a police dashcam video played in court earlier this week is consistent with use-of-force training he received as an officer.

During cross-examination, the Crown suggested a final knee strike was not necessary as the driver was nearly under control, but Gelowitz replied that a suspect is not truly under control until they are in handcuffs in the back of a police vehicle.

Gelowitz, who has pleaded not guilty, was charged following an investigation by the Saskatoon police professional standards section.

The trial has previously heard that the pursuit within the city began when a patrol officer spotted the stolen car, and a subsequent chase reached speeds up to 160 km/h before a police spike belt disabled the vehicle.

The video played at the start of Gelowitz’s trial on Monday shows several officers yelling for the two people in the auto to get their hands up before they use their batons to smash windows and wrestle the driver out of the vehicle.

Six other officers involved in the chase have previously testified that Bear was being unco-operative. Bear, who served two years for the chase, has told the trial he was not resisting arrest.

Gelowitz was fired in August of last year following two additional, unrelated assault charges. One of them has been dropped while the other is being treated as a separate matter.

The defence was expected to call one more witness Thursday to review the dashcam video before final arguments are heard Friday.

Copyright (c) 2019 The Canadian Press